Colonials Programme

Rating : 6/10

Videogames have allowed us to realise humanity’s conquest of planets afar for longer than I’ve been alive. A lot of them focus on expanding a settlement to make a thriving human colony. Colonials Programme goes a step further, allowing players to prepare for the arrival of a human colony to a far off planet, before then expanding the settlement.

As someone with no experience of colonising planets, I was thankful to find that my progress would be assisted by the seemingly more experienced AI and Mimi. The two characters have a lot of charm, giving the player a good chuckle throughout their playthrough of the campaign. Despite their banter, the story itself remains simple, allowing the player to focus solely on the gameplay elements of Colonials Programme. It works well too, each mission is preceded by the aforementioned characters having a little chat. It’s never anything too long, but it gives you a good respite between each mission you complete and is completely skippable if you have no interest in the pair yapping on.

Colonials Programme

Every mission in Colonials Programme takes place on a grid consisting of tiles. Some tiles contain resources, whilst others remain empty. Each mission has its own objective for the player to work towards and the player must efficiently farm the resources to hit the requirements set out in the objective. Despite the missions starting easy, you hit a serious upward trend of difficulty about halfway through the campaign. Part of this is due to the game missing what you may consider a normal difficulty, with the campaign missions essentially jumping from easy to hard. Harder levels aren’t frustratingly challenging, but it’s an unexpected leap in difficulty which is likely to catch you off guard. Difficult levels themselves weren’t bothersome, but the difficulty curve needed to be smoother to ensure a consistent experience.

Outside of the campaign, the game has a map editor and a challenge mode. The map editor is pretty straight forward. You select the grid size you want, fill the tiles with whatever you need and set the objectives. It’s simple and easy to use, although a lack of Steam Workshop support means it’s difficult (maybe even impossible) to actually share the maps you’ve created with other players. Challenge mode is a series of difficult, well, challenges, looking to test the player’s skill. These are some of the harder levels in the game, but for me, end up being slightly easier than the ending levels of the campaign. I’ve not seen the challenges update since I started playing Colonials Programme, so I’m not sure if these are updated. There’s no time limit to suggest they’re being removed or replaced, so you would assume these challenges are likely static.

Colonials Programme

That lack of information makes the early game unenjoyable, maybe even inaccessible for some people. I found myself keeping a spreadsheet of what each thing was to keep on top of what items were during the early parts of the campaign. Of course, the more you play, the more likely you are to memorise it, but that doesn’t help you whilst you’re starting out. The frustration also stems from how much room the user interface takes up, without actually giving the player all the information they need to be comfortable early on.

Mechanically, Colonials Programme is a well-designed, albeit short, game. I beat the campaign in one sitting and really enjoyed the dynamic of the two characters. Frustratingly, the game does come with some design quirks, including it’s overburdening user interface, in addition to the unwelcoming beginning. Past those issues, the game is a very enjoyable experience. My biggest concern is that the opening is likely to lose players unless the information presented to them becomes more easily digestible.

Colonials Programme is a fun game with a few bumps along the way. If you soldier your way through a rough beginning, you’ll find a game that has been crafted quite well. With that being said, the beginning is a slog that is likely to lose some of the users before being given a fair chance.

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